The Slatest

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Istanbul Nightclub Attack; Gunman Still at Large

Relatives and friends mourn at a coffin during the funeral of Ayhan Arik, one of the 39 victims of the gun attack on the Reina.

Burak Kara/Getty Images

A day after the New Year’s attack on Reina nightclub in Istanbul, ISIS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the latest terrorist attack to rip through Turkey. The group called the gunman that opened fire, killing at least 39 clubgoers and injuring dozens more, in the early hours of Jan. 1 “a hero soldier of the caliphate.” The gunman, however, is still at large and it is unclear what role the terrorist organization played in the attack. Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported that Turkish authorities have arrested eight people in connection to the attack for questioning.

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“[ISIS’s] claim of responsibility came after years of complex relations between the Turkish state and the jihadist group operating across its southern border. Several terrorist attacks in Turkey over the past year have been attributed to the Islamic State, but the militant group rarely claims responsibility for major attacks in the country,” according to the New York Times. “In an apparent reference to Turkey’s role in the conflict in Syria, the [ISIS] statement [Monday] warned that ‘the government of Turkey should know that the blood of Muslims, which it is targeting with its planes and its guns, will cause a fire in its home by God’s will.’”

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a militant Kurdish separatist organization that the Turkish government has labeled a terrorist group, distanced itself from the attack. “No Kurdish forces have anything to do with this attack,” it said in a statement. “The Kurdish freedom fight is also the fight for democratization of Turkey. That’s why we won’t target innocent and civilian people.”

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